NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump’s company was convicted of tax fraud on Tuesday for helping executives dodge taxes on extravagant perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars, a repudiation of financial practices at the former president’s business as he mounts another run for the White House.
A jury found two corporate entities at the Trump Organization guilty on all 17 counts, including charges of conspiracy and falsifying business records. Trump himself was not on trial. The verdict in state court in New York came after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days.
The conviction was validation for New York authorities who said their three-year investigation into Trump and his businesses is continuing. The probe, which began as an inquiry into hush-money payments made on Trump’s behalf, later morphed into an examination of the company’s asset valuation and pay practices.
The company faces a fine of up to USD1.6 million. Sentencing is scheduled for January 13. The defence said it will appeal.
“A former president’s companies now stand convicted of crimes. That is consequential,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said outside the courtroom. “It underscores that in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all.”
Trump, a Republican who launched his 2024 campaign last month during the trial, blasted the verdict as a part of a Democrat-led “Manhattan witch hunt!”
“This case is unprecedented and involved no monetary gain to these two Corporations,” Trump said in a statement, adding, “New York City is a hard place to be ‘Trump’.”
The verdict adds to mounting legal woes for Trump, who faces a criminal investigation in Washington over the retention of top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, as well as efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election. Those inquiries are being led by a newly named Justice Department special counsel.
The district attorney in Atlanta is also leading an investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn his loss in that state.
The verdict also comes amid a series of self-inflicted crises for Trump in recent weeks, including anger over his dinner with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the anti-semitic rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and the former president’s for the “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” to address his baseless claims of mass election fraud.